How To Pick Your Work Partner: Stories From Serial Entrepreneurs

In this video from Stanford’s ecorner series called “The Value of True Partnerships,” Wences Casares and Meyer Malka talk about what it takes to make a strong partnership work and how they’ve been able to successfully work together through multiple companies. Their talk applies whether it’s finding a partner for a start up or just deciding who to have on your project team.

I recommend listening to the whole talk, but here’s a few key notes that jumped out for me.

  • Partnerships that first start based on a respect for the other person’s skills and their merit then grow into friendships are usually better than partnerships where the two people started as friends and then tried to work together.
  • Ego is important as an entrepreneur, and it’s OK if both partners have it – but it must be “left at the door” when dealing between each other.  Ego is best from the door out.
  • Trust is an important ingredient in any successful partnership.  My note: you may not want to build it like they mentioned on the call by getting in a bar fight together at your first meeting.
  • Arguing or preparing to argue with your partner can help bring better results because you’ll have to think through your point of view in more depth to see all sides and do it at a faster rate than if you were just by yourself.
  • Communication is key. You must over communicate with your partner. This allows you to know what your partner is thinking at all times, and present one aligned voice to the company.
  • Building a company outside of Silicon Valley has advantages and disadvantages.  One of the key advantages is that within Silicon Valley your ability to get a top level brilliant engineer is diminished because of all the competition with the huge companies.  In the valley the average small company team may be 4-9 average engineers for every 1 brilliant one but in certain developing countries you could more easily form a team of 9 brilliant engineers.

All in all a great talk and a very interesting story of how 2 guys came together and started then sold multiple companies and what they learned about their partnership along the way.  I recommend tuning out for the portion of the story about the bathroom explosion though.

Matt Kane

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